Corrosion Prevention & Control (CPC) Source Overview  

by Joseph C. Dean, P.E. for the Director, Corrosion Policy & Oversight (D, CPO) [OUSD (AT&L)]
Updated: 02/16/2018



Although, the word "corrosion" is most often associated with "rust" and the oxidation of other metals, the Congressional definition of corrosion is, "the deterioration of a material or its properties due to a reaction of that material with its chemical environment" and can be found in 10 U.S.C. § 2228. It is inclusive of the deterioration of all materials, which can be caused through sun exposure, mold and mildew, wind, and other environmental elements.

The CPC Source WBDG Pages provide a broad and in-depth discussion on facilities corrosion. This content is intended as a just-in-time resource for facilities professionals to assist with the inclusion of CPC at important life cycle decision stages. The CPC Source topics include life cycle focused knowledge and training that is complemented by the vast Whole Building Design Guide resource to ensure facility durability and longevity.

The Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) hosts a large number of corrosion related criteria and Corrosion Prevention and Control (CPC) related resources. By researching and leveraging the content on the CPC Source planners, engineers, architects, designers, sustainment, and maintenance professionals, construction contractors and anyone who wants to know more about corrosion have access to a wealth of knowledge to make informed durability and longevity decisions.

DoD Corrosion Overview

The Department of Defense (DoD) acquires, operates, and maintains a vast array of physical assets that include vehicles, aircraft, ships, materiel and facilities such as wharves, buildings, and other stationary structures and infrastructure. All these assets are susceptible to corrosion. Corrosion affects pipelines, fuel tanks, pavements, roofs, transformers, switchgear, electrical boxes, HVAC equipment, water towers, fire hydrants, motors, compressors, bridges, wharfs, piers, connectors, fencing, boilers, ladders, stairways, wash racks, fire sprinkler systems, airfield pavements, steam, tankage, POL and water distribution lines and often remains unseen or unnoticed until failure occurs. Facility vulnerability and the potential effects of corrosion need to be fully evaluated and included in project planning, acquisition (RFP and SOW), design, construction, and sustainment phases and activities. The CPC Source has been developed to help facility managers, maintenance personnel, architects and engineers and construction contractors responsibly manage those challenges. By learning more about the impacts of corrosion, informed decision-making to correct deficiencies can occur before they cause failure and increase sustainment costs. The CPC Competencies and Training pages provide additional information and resources to improve durability and life cycle.

Facilities Policy and Guidance

The DoD has in place extensive policy and guidance to facilitate effective management of corrosion in the facilities that are required to support the national defense. The Policy Table provides insights into DoD Guidance and Policy as it relates to CPC. Each military service has issued, in varying degrees, their own implementing guidance and policies related to CPC.

Acquisition and the Facilities Life Cycle

Common to each DOD Component engaged in facilities management is the need to plan, design, construct and sustain those assets. The Facilities Life Cycle involves elements of Planning and Requirements Definition, Sustainment Restoration and Modernization (SRM) Engineering and Design, Construction and Commissioning, Sustainment, Renovation, Restoration, and or Disposal as shown in the graphic below. All of these steps interact with the defense acquisition program to create a lasting CPC solution. For additional insights see the Acquisition Issues page

Flow chart of acquisition and the facilities life cycle: Planning & Requirements Definition, SRM Engineering & Design, Contruction & Commissioning, Sustainment, and Disposal or Renovation & Restoration surround Aquisition Support DB, DBB, Simplified Acquisition

Planning and Requirements Definition

Often facilities planning does not include CPC considerations unless the planning initiative is focusing on a specific facility or group of facilities to be constructed or sustained in a high corrosion area such as Guam or a waterfront location. Decisions and steps to address corrosion may not occur until much later in the facilities life cycle process. Failure to consider CPC at the appropriate time will negatively affect the durability of the facility over the life cycle.

Decisions made in facilities affect the readiness and availability of equipment and operations that they support. To ensure the desired level of functionality, facilities must be planned, constructed, and sustained in sync with the requirement and the applicable environmental severity classification for that location.

The practical selection, application, and implementation of corrosion-related solutions can be found in the technical manuals, bulletins, maintenance and operations manuals, handbooks, guides, and engineering technical letters, all of which can be found on the WBDG website. The CPC Source Planning page provides greater insights into the area of facilities planning.

SRM Engineering and Design for CPC

CPC related SRM engineering and design includes the full range of efforts from corrosion problem solving to selection of criteria, development of plans and specifications to completing the work via in-house forces or by contract. Problem solving may require analysis of an issue such as the cause of mold, correction of a cathodic protection system failure, or the untimely appearance of rust. The SRM engineer, architect and maintenance professional must then determine what corrective measures are required; the solution might include dehumidification, selection of a specialized coating, or determining which type of power pole should be used as a replacement in a highly corrosive soil area. These "solutions" may not require full plans and specifications, however, some level of specificity is required in the contract documents or job order to ensure that the appropriate solution is realized.

Facility design must include assessment of environmental severity impacts and the appropriate selection of CPC materials (e.g. coatings, grades of steel, humidity controls, etc.) appropriate to the locale to reduce the risk of corrosion vulnerability. Any trade-offs required during acquisition stages must include the selection and application of design criteria that will prevent or mitigate future corrosion, improve sustainability, durability, key dimensions of longevity, and reduce cost over the facilities' life cycle. The CPC related Criteria Pages and vignettes on the CPC Training page will provide insights into these issues.

Good corrosion performance is both an attribute of an entire facility and the sum of its sub-components including leveraging Best Practices. The Facilities and Infrastructure Corrosion Evaluation (FICE) Study submitted to the U. S. Congress in July 2013, surveyed 30 installations and included their best processes, understanding regional or environmental severity influences, and leveraging the associated knowledge of system requirements to achieve a successful solution. In the Report, the best practices are segregated into seven categories: condition assessment; material selection; technology; process and applications; communications, training and partnering; policies, criteria, and guidance; and, acquisition.

Examples of the major types of corrosion to be considered are discussed in the Corrosion Science Knowledge Page. Design Considerations for CPC are discussed in the Environmental Severity Page and the Design and Construction Page. The High-Risk Facilities Table provides insights into facilities and building components traditionally impacted by CPC and the associated high corrosion related sustainment costs.

Example of spalling concrete

Spalling concrete, Guam.

Decisions must be made to take corrective action before further damage occurs that might include structural failure. The picture on the right demonstrates reinforcing steel that has rusted, expanded and caused the concrete cover to spall. Selecting a design approach to prevent this sort of failure on other structures is an essential part of good CPC practice.

An excellent example of leveraging criteria and design guidance is in the high-risk CPC area in Guam and the Marianas Islands where this knowledge assists with providing more sustainable and durable facilities and in the reduction of life-cycle costs. The Marianas Navy and Marine Corps Design and Construction Standards (MDACS), (September 2011), leverages the WBDG and guides engineers and architects in selecting the right criteria and materials for sustainability and durability in that highly corrosive environment. The Design and Construction page discusses design best practice decisions in the new Guam Navy Hospital that was completed in April 2014.

Small shed with a stainless steel dore per MDACS
Guam Naval Hospital under construction

Use of stainless steel doors in severe corrosive environments per MDACS

Guam Naval Hospital under construction utilizing best practices

Construction and Commissioning

Differing acquisition strategies and delivery methods (e.g. Design/Bid/Build (DBB), Design-Build (DB), Simplified Acquisition, Task Order/Indefinite Quantity Job Order Contracts, etc.) should consider and include CPC in their requirements definition, RFP and execution. CPC features or requirements also should be included in project and construction documentation and Contractor Quality Control, Quality Assurance and Commissioning Plans regardless of the size and type of procurement. Poor construction practices can easily negate the best design provisions taken to produce a durable and corrosion-resistant structure. For specific insights see the CPC Source Design and Construction and Acquisition Issues Pages.

Commissioning is addressed in other sections of the WBDG and in the Building Information Management (BIM) content area. During turnover from the construction agent to the installation responsible for sustainment, key documents that include information on the built facility (e.g. as-built drawings, material types (coatings, cathodic protection), equipment descriptions and operations, manuals, warranties, etc.) along with commissioning information must be transferred to the SRM manager. This is typically referred to as Operations and Maintenance Support Information "OMSI"   and is usually electronic. This information is key to successful SRM management, durability and life cycle expectations.

Sustainment and CPC

Sustainment includes the maintenance and repair activities necessary to ensure that facilities are available to meet mission and operational requirements. It also includes major repairs or replacement of facility components that are expected to occur periodically throughout the life cycle of facilities. The facilities manager is always in the position of having to decide which requirement to address while deferring others in the face of having limited resources and competing priorities. Outside influences complicate those decisions, often causing a split of resources between multiple tasks where few actually can be fully resolved. Knowing, for example, that there is an effective splash zone coating to be used in the face of rising sea levels helps the facilities manager consider available options to reduce or defer, impacts of waterfront corrosion.

Sustainment plans should include as-built conditions included in the electronic Operations and Maintenance Support Information (e-OMSI) UFGS 01 78 24.00 20 and Comprehensive Facility Operation and Maintenance Manual provided by the Construction Agent during facility turnover. SRM Managers should insist on receiving these essential documents along with systems training to best position the sustainment personnel to ensure that life-cycle expectations for the delivered facility is achieved.

In general, preventive maintenance is more cost effective than corrective maintenance. From a corrosion perspective, materials typically degrade at a higher rate once rust forms and chemical deterioration of the material begins. Performing facility inspections involves identification, recording and assessing corrosion. Next steps include monitoring the deficiency, requiring a more detailed distress survey, contacting corrosion subject matter expert(s), and developing a mitigation or corrective action plan. Assessment of the corrosion often requires determination of environmental severity condition, type and extent of corrosion, component age, type of material, and coatings applied. Solutions include understanding of initial design characteristics or defects and associated construction impacts. The follow-up actions include determining the scope of the repair, identifying funding, creation of a design, issuing a contract and returning the facility to functional levels. Delaying action on correction of the corrosion deficiency may result in emergency repair actions. Ignoring the problem will result in downtime and lost productivity and ultimately costing more in resources. Additional information can be found on the CPC Source SRM Page.

Disposal or Renovation and Restoration of a Facility

Planned deterioration of a pier

Planned deterioration of a pier, Quantico VA, a disposal decision.

SRM decisions often require an evaluation to determine the extent of renovation and restoration of existing facilities to extend life of the facility to meet mission needs. Disposal of existing facilities is or can be part of that evaluation. The ravages of corrosion can accelerate the necessity for making the decision to decide the future of an existing facility. If life-cycle extension in the form of renovation or restoration is determined to be feasible, then the information provided in the previous sections can assist in designing and constructing the facility modifications.

Application of Good CPC Practice

Application of good CPC in all phases of the facilities life cycle from planning to sustainment are essential to prolonged sustainability, durability, and reduced life-cycle costs. There are extensive resources in the form of criteria, materials, and technology to help the SRM engineer and designer facilitate accomplishment of successful CPC. Whether the issue is selection of the correct concrete structure design to ensure prolonged coverage of reinforcing steel, determining the appropriate cathodic protection design and positioning, or application of advanced coatings that provide longer system performance, they are solvable and doable within the framework of industry standards and criteria hosted on the WBDG. Most of the CPC Source pages contain expanded information, guidance, criteria, best practices and lessons learned consistent with that topic.

Emerging Issues in CPC

As new technologies evolve, aggressively updating the knowledge base is essential to achieving reduced life-cycle costs. Discoveries of new cost-saving CPC technologies occur as a result of the combined efforts of industry, academia, and DoD cooperating to achieve winning solutions. There are a number of facilities technology research projects funded by the D, CPO for facilities.

These projects are cost shared with the military services conducting an active research and demonstration program for CPC-focused materials, equipment, and processes associated with facilities. The transition of successful technology demonstration projects into criteria plays a key role in providing DoD components and participating organizations with the assurance that corrosion guidance and technologies have been vetted before inclusion into criteria and processes. The Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, (ERDC-CERL), Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC), and Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) work to evaluate these CPC technologies and expedite the transition of the successful demonstration projects into criteria.

The List of Corrosion-Related D, CPO-Funded Projects provides an overview of CPC related research, many of which are either transitioning into or transitioned into criteria. The UFC Coordinating Panel and the Discipline Working Groups oversee criteria updates to make sure that these new technologies are evaluated and incorporated into new revisions. Some of these include:

Relevant Codes, Standards and Guidelines

Criteria on the WBDG are generally based on industry standards. An industry standard is an established norm or requirement about technical systems, usually presented in the form of a formal document. It establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices. Industry Standards can also be found in the form of reference specifications. The standards referenced in criteria are usually written and maintained by Standards Organizations. See also Additional Resources / Code Taxonomy. See the following for additional guidance and information:

Criteria Use Mandates

  • DoDD 4270.5, Military Construction  (February 12, 2005)—Provides guidance on MILCON program management. Establishes requirement that UFCs and UFGSs must be used to the greatest extent possible for planning, design, and construction (restoration or modernization) of facilities, regardless of funding source.
  • House Conference Report 105-247 —Accompanies Conference Committee on House Report (H.R.) 2016, Military Construction Appropriations Act, 1998. Contains language on unified design guidance and directs DoD and the services to establish procedures for unification of facilities criteria.
  • MIL-STD-3007F, Standard Practice for Unified Facilities Criteria and Unified Facilities Guide Specifications  (December 13, 2006)—Establishes procedures for the development and maintenance of Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) and Unified Facilities Guide Specifications (UFGS) and prescribes their use by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Department of Defense (DoD) defense agencies, and DoD field activities.
  • UFC 1-200-01, DoD Building Code (General Building Requirements) (June 20, 2016)—Represents the joint Services effort to bring uniformity to the military use of non-government model building codes.

For service and agency-specific mandates, please refer to their associated policy and guidance.

Additional Resources


Design Objectives

Cost-Effective, Utilize Cost and Value Engineering Throughout the Project Life Cycle, Historic Preservation, Sustainable

Design Disciplines

Applicable to Design Disciplines

Guides & Specifications

Building Envelope Design Guide

Cast-in-Place Concrete Wall Systems (11 Corrosion References)

Mechanical Insulation Design Guide

Mechanical Insulation Design Guide (23 Corrosion References), Materials and Systems (14 Corrosion References)



Federal Facility Criteria: